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Mayhem 2015: Day One

17 October 15 words: Harry Wilding, Ali Emm
The popular film festival kicks off for the eleventh time at Broadway Cinema, with Emelie, Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD and Rabid Dogs
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The extremely tense Emelie kicked off the festival this year. Co-directors of Mayhem, Chris and Steve, advised the audience prior to the film that this might not be the best film for those of us who had left our own kids at home with a babysitter; myself being one of them. It would be okay, my babysitter was a friend - but how well do we really know anyone in this Godforsaken world?? - it would be okay.

The film starts with the kidnapping of a young babysitter, Anna, and her subsequent sinister replacement,  unbeknown to the parents employing her services for the first time, while they go on the thirteenth anniversary. Unlucky for some. The film unfolds almost in real time throughout the night, as things escalate and motives are revealed.

Irish born Sarah Bolger (who, at 24 years old, has been acting consistently since 1999) is excellent as the title character and main antagonist. She plays the crazy with subtlety, never going over the top - which would have been very easy to do in such a role. Director Michael Thelin, with first feature debut, has done a great job with the actors, including the three children left with the babysitter. Joshua Rush, who plays the oldest child Jacob, gets the part just right, in what amounts to an accelerated, and bloody, coming of age drama for the character, as he learns about sex, tampons, death and the responsibility of protecting his younger siblings.

Any film with children in such sustained danger is always going to be onto a winner for tension and Emelie certainly exploits that with gusto and intelligence. My fears about the ending did come to pass, however, with it becoming a little anti-climatic. The tension that had gripped me for an hour or so seemed to release me too early within the final showdown and certain elements of the conclusion felt like a bit of a cop out; a bit safe.

Saying that, though, this was a strong film overall and a strong opener for Mayhem. Bring on the next sixteen. Harry Wilding.
 

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Born in to the world in 1977, 2000AD arrived kicking and screaming against the absolute mediocrity that was the British comic industry. Considering its longevity and dedicated fan base, it’s a bit odd that Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD is the first feature length documentary focusing on the comic, but there you go.

The animated title sequence and scenes that break up the interview-heavy documentary are, quite frankly, pretty sexy. A pretty linear line is taken as we’re led through the history of the comic, from its coming together from the disillusioned minds of writers Pat Mills , John Wagner and Kelvin Gosnell, through it’s ‘wobbly’ period in the nineties where it kind of lost its way, to current day.

The creators’ disdain for authority doesn’t seem to have waned over the years and the interviews show them bubbling over with enthusiasm and passion for 2000AD, still proud of how they pushed boundaries and pissed off censors, and bemusement at how their work was perceived at times. Interviews with contributors such as Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Kevin O’Neill, Dave Gibbons, Bryan Talbot and former editors Dave Bishop and Andy Diggle give a broader view than you might imagine and they’re all pretty humble on the whole. Although, saying that, the whole film is regularly punctuated by Pat Mills’ cocky demeanour and potty mouth, but this is no bad thing.

There’s no doubting that Future Shock!... is a big fan high-five session for a revered comic, but fair play that everyone’s allowed to talk quite frankly about their experiences. Neil Gaiman speaks equally with love and irritation for the comic, happily pointing out how disgusting it was that working for 2000AD meant signing over all rights to your work. He muses on how Alan Moore’s contribution of The Ballad of Halo Jones might have gone further and how his own Neverwhere might have appeared in its pages if it wasn’t for their shoddy copyright policies.

Karen Berger, founder of Vertigo – DC comics’ grown-up sister imprint – also talks about how without 2000AD there would have been no Vertigo; due to its vision but also its not so favourable treatment of staff. They created a foundation for the future of comics, and made it easy for her to lure half the talent to America with free rein to create.

A long overdue documentary, there’s no shying away from how 2000AD has captured readers' imaginations for decades, inspired generations of artists, writers and comics, and got a lot of people’s backs up along the way. I freely admit that I have never once read a copy of 2000AD, only revelled in what it has left in its wake, but Future Shock!... held my attention, raised quite a few chuckles and convinced me to get stuck into some back issues. It did let itself down at the end with what felt like a circle jerk, with all the interviewees saying “2000AD is great” in different variations for what felt like five minutes. My advice: watch it, at about 95 minutes in, when they start going on, fast forward til you see Pat Mills’ face and then press play again so you can hear him swear one last time. Ali Emm.

Emelie and Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD showed at Broadway Cinema on Thursday 15 October 2015.

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